The Consequences of Untreated Glaucoma

A close-up of a woman's brown eyes. She is wearing glasses

Glaucoma is known as “the silent thief of sight.” This common eye condition is insidious, because the symptoms often go unnoticed, especially early on. Eye damage often begins before you even know you have this disease. Learn more about glaucoma and find out why early detection and treatment are crucial for your sight.

Signs and risk factors of glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. It’s a leading cause of blindness in the country, and more than 3 million Americans are living with this condition. 

Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases, most of which are caused by excess pressure around the optic nerve. When pressure is too high, usually due to a backup of fluids inside the eye, the nerve cannot continue to be healthy. This can lead to vision problems. 

Contrary to popular belief, there are hardly any symptoms or signs in the early stages of the disease. Glaucoma develops slowly and painlessly. Vision loss often begins with side or peripheral vision, which may impact an individual’s ability to drive safely. If the condition progresses far enough, it can lead to blindness. 

Over time, symptoms of glaucoma can also include eye pain, blind spots, blurred vision, nausea, headaches, halos, and eventually blindness. By the time patients realize they have vision problems, the damage is irreversible.

The disease can affect anyone, but there are certain groups that are considered higher risk for the disease. These risk factors include age, family history of the condition, race, and underlying conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Glaucoma is particularly dangerous when left untreated

Glaucoma is progressive. That means it can cause permanent damage to your vision if it is left undiagnosed. Once glaucoma progresses, it can’t be reversed and there is no cure for this disease. 

That’s why early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to protect your sight. When caught early, you have a better chance of maintaining most of your eyesight. If it’s not caught and goes untreated for a long period of time, blindness can occur. 

Once sight is lost, it cannot be restored. Thankfully, there are a variety of treatment options that can help stave off damage and even stop vision loss.

Treatments can help alleviate its effects

Once you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, you’ll most likely need treatment for the remainder of your life. This is the only way to slow or prevent further loss of sight. That’s why it’s critical for all patients 60 and over to receive regular, comprehensive eye exams, so we can detect it and begin treatment right away. Remember, every day counts when it comes to saving your sight.

For a majority of cases, prescription eye drops can help lower intraocular pressure. Most patients respond well to this treatment, delaying or preventing the progression of the disease. Certain glaucoma medications may also be recommended to slow progression. 

In more advanced cases, laser treatment and traditional surgical procedures are available. These can improve the eye’s ability to drain fluid that is causing pressure to build up.

Taking care of your eyes before glaucoma does the most damage

Regular eye exams from an ophthalmologist are crucial to catch glaucoma early and limit its damage before it is too late. The experts at Florida Eye Specialists are ready to help you stay ahead of glaucoma or get the best treatment available to limit its progression. Reach out to us today to request an appointment for an exam.